Friday, October 21, 2016
Practising hope: gathered and scattered Ministers Resourcing day
As part of Presbyterian General Assembly, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership has been asked to provide a day resourcing ministers. We want to engage the theme of General Assembly – hope for the world. We want to offer thoughtful and theological reflection on ministry practice, empirical research into how churches respond to tragedy as they gather and how we discern how Christ takes form in the world. We want to allow the rich range of voices in the church to be heard. So far, the registration response has been excellent.
Theme – Practising hope: gathered and scattered
9:00 am Welcome, introduction KCML team
9:15 am Plenary: Hope gathered. How do churches respond to hard stuff? How did PCANZ churches worship and pray as they gathered on Sunday, November 15, 2015 in light of major international events? Steve and Lynne Taylor will present findings from their research into 160 churches, to explore how churches respond in gathered worship to hard stuff. What was practiced? How was hope understood? What theologies of God in suffering were at work? What does this say about being church in the world today?
10:00 am Morning Groups: “What’s in your kete?” By “what’s in your kete?” we are asking various ministry practitioners to facilitate discussion both among the group but also by example. We are asking them to bring resources that they use for offering hope in the hard places of human experience. We want the question to also be a group question, allowing the group to bounce off each other and sharing best practice. If you have resources you have found important in nurturing hope in hard places, please bring them to share. Group presenters will include KCML Faculty and local practitioners.
1:00pm Plenary: Christ Plays in 10,000 Places: Introductory Address and Panel. Mission conversations in churches frequently occur as an inside-out job. We speak of ‘reaching out’, or ‘taking the Gospel to’, or even ‘welcoming them in’. It assumes we as the church are the centre and the fixed point from which the action emanates. But what if mission is just as much an outside-in job and God is already in our communities and marketplaces, inviting us to join the action there. What if Christ the living Word is speaking and acting amidst the world for the sake of the world. Can we become discerners of Christ amidst the marketplace and neighbourhood, and in discerning this, how might we hear Christ speaking a word of freshness to our churches?
1. Developing a culture of discernment in your eldership. Rev Ed Masters (Rotorua District Parish Church)
2. Loving your neighbours and discovering God’s Mission Rev Sun Mi Lee (St Austells Uniting, Auckland)
3. Building the conditions for mission listening and innovation in a Presbytery Rev Darryl Tempero, (Kiwi-Church and Alpine Presbytery Mission Facilitator, Christchurch)
4. Young People detaching from Church: What mission questions does the Pacific experience raise? Rev Fei Taulealeausuami (Former CWM Pacific Secretary & PhD Student) & Rev Dr Tokerau Joseph, (First Church Otago)
5. Listening to our changing rural communities Rev Erin Pendreigh (Otago-Southland Synod Mission Facilitator) & Rev Andrew Harrex (Lawrence, South Otago)
6. Leadership processes for mission listening & innovating Rev Dr Steve Taylor (Principal KCML)
7. The new net goes fishing. Ministry in the water amongst millennials. Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly (Senior Chaplain, Auckland University) & Rev Dr Hyeeun Kim (Counsellor, Auckland University)
8. Discerning and following Christ in Suburb and City. Rev Dr Mark Johnston (KCML Auckland Coordinator)
3.15pm Afternoon Tea and book launch. In this 2016 year KCML Faculty have published a range of resources that offer significant resourcing for ministers. This includes a songbook, multiple creative worship resources and three books. Commissioning prayers will be offered as part of our concluding worship.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
First communion: embodying a call?
Today was my first communion in a local Presbyterian church in New Zealand. I began at KCML a year ago this week. It involved a move from Australia to New Zealand and from the Uniting Church to the Presbyterian church.
I’ve shared communion in other settings within the Presbyterian church over this year, but not at a local church level. It is an interesting, albiet totally anecdotal reflection, on the place of this sacrament in Presbyterian life. I’ve also seen one baptism in a local Presbyterian church during this first year. Again, totally anecdotal, but it would suggest more of an emphasis on Word than Sacrament. And it does invite reflection on the impact on ecclesial formation – on the church and on myself as an individual. But that is for another post.
What was wonderful was to share this first communion with Te Aka Puaho, the Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church; to share it at Waimana, in the heart of Tuhoe nation; and to receive it from an Amorangi (Maori) minister in training.
It was a powerful reminder of the breadth of reach of the Presbyterian church in New Zealand; a reminder of the incredible gift that is Te Aka Puaho, reaching to stand in solidarity with communities and people that very few Pakeha will ever be able to engage; and their commitment as a Synod to raising of indigenous leadership.
The photo is worth reflecting on as a “visual” expression of belief, more specifically contextualised belief. The photos behind the pulpit are around the four walls of the church. They are there to express the church as living and breathing; not as a building. It allows reflection on people and events that shape the church. The colours (red, white and black) and patterns are Maori colours and patterns and express the connection with local communities and the people they serve.
We arrived early, but that was not a problem. A previous minister had set a policy in place: “The door will always be open.” The church should never be locked, should never be available on during worship.
My personality tends to find significance in events like this. My first local church communion is amongst tangata whenua, as a minority, being served as part of a process of indigenous leadership development. I would like to hope that says something about how God might be made present to me during this season of serving as Principal of KCML and how my time and energy, including my research (for example – Wanangha nai: a post-colonial indigenous atonement theology and Fiction as missiology: an indigenous Christology in Papua New Guinea), might need to be shaped.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
New Mission seedlings: How could a church tend a seedling?
Initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness is part of what it means to be a Presbyterian minister, according to the Book of Order.
The ordinand is admitted to a fellowship responsible for the guardianship of the Gospel – a guardianship which must express itself in freshness and adaptability as the Church is led by Christ to do new things. The minister has not only the task of protecting the Church and the Gospel from error, but also, and particularly, the task of initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness. (Book of Order, Appendix D-4: Ordination and the Ministry of Word and Sacraments, (1966), (vii))
As a consequence, ministerial training needs to include opportunities, encouragement and training in innovation in mission. KMCL is working toward this aim in the birthing New Mission Seedlings. The aim is to establish in each Presbytery of the PCANZ a New Mission Seedling; seven throughout New Zealand over the next few years.
Each seedling involves a long term commitment to mission in a local community. They are sites for learning
- for interns learning to lead in mission
- for KCML as a learning community being shaped by the challenges of initiating creative trends
- for churches and Presbyteries in mission, invited to partner in establishing new communities of faith
- for the national church, given that each seedling is established to address a mission question the church nationally does not yet have an answer too. This will be facilitated by annual National Incubators, that share wisdom and stimulate good practice.
In sharing this vision with a local group from a Presbytery, a minister asked an excellent question: Could we participate? We have folk who have skills? Is there some way they can participate? Can partnerships between NMS and local churches be fostered?
My immediate response was to think about the Presbyterian distinctive of shared decision-making. We look to shared processes of leadership rather than to bishops or charismatic individuals. This instinct should shape our approach to initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness. Denominationally, the question of how could a church help a seedling is in fact a deeply Presbyterian question that attends to the richness of our tradition.
A practical response is to note the following:
1 – Presence to ensure solidarity and enhance partnership – from the extreme of move into the area, through choosing to work in the area, joining a club or activity in the area; participating in a local school with reading. There are a range of ways to enter Incarnation, from full relocation, to a range of ways to be alongside.
2 – Gifts – There are a range of ways to participate in initiating creative trends present themselves
- Finance – people could contribute (food, coffee, events, etc)
- Service – commit to a team that experiments in ways to serve. This could be on a fortnightly pattern, or in key community events or linked to Christian festivals.
- Prayer – gathering in the community to listen to God (pray and read Scripture) amid the patterns of the community
- Specialisation – specific skills might be offered, for example chairing a local board meeting, teach te reo. These involve taking an individual skill and offering it, ideally in ways the express both competency and solidarity.
3. Seasons – this speaks to both length and in timing. You don’t move plants in summer but in winter. So there are seasons in the sending church to discern, that involve the state of the community and vitality of practice. This also applies individually. A person in a demanding season of work has less to give than the season following children having left home. A season by nature has an ending. Always invite folk to participate for a season and then to review.
These thoughts could apply to a local church. They could also apply to a Presbytery, given that being presbyterian is about shared mission. Local churches and Presbyteries can be visited, the mission shared and folk invited to participate for a season, in a range of ways as listed above. Will you consider offering yourself for a year, to participate in six prayer walks; or one community festival or a year of listening to children read in a local school?
Each person that participates at the end of their season, faces a choice. To renew their commitment? Or to return to their sending church? Either way, the season of shared mission has exposed them to incarnational and contextual mission. They are richer. They church will be richer. In doing so, we are making another statement.
We are declaring that initiating creative trends is a body practice. It refuses to rely on amazingly gifted people. Instead, together, in partnerships, it finds multiple ways to participate in the mission of God. This is some of the thinking that lies behind New Mission Seedlings at KCML.
Monday, September 19, 2016
New Mission Seedlings: 1/5th of what I’m currently working on
This pictures expresses 1/5th of the KCML Strategic plan. It is shaped by one insight: that the best place to train for mission is on mission.
To quote Andrew Norton, Moderator of the PCANZ, “The Presbyterian Church Of Aotearoa is at a very critical time and desperately needs the development of leadership at every level in the church and more particularly in the creation of new and innovative forms of ministry in our changing times – we can not continue business as usual.”
KCML is thus looking to work in collaboration with a range of partners across New Zealand to establish New Mission Seedlings as places to learn in mission. This involves training leaders by engaging in local mission in order to attend to national priorities.
The strategic priority of New Mission Seedlings has been shaped by
- KCML team retreats in December and March
- external input from key stakeholders within the Presbyterian Church
- discussion of drafts with Assembly Executive Secretary, KCML Advisory Board, Leadership Sub-committee, Presbyterian Development Society, a joint Leadership Sub-committee/PressGo/KCML working group, Northern Presbytery Council
- pieces with Pacific leaders, Central and Alpine Presbytery, South Island Ministers, 150th Synod, Press Go Board
- the 5 parts of the KCML strategic plan were “strongly endorsed” by Leadership Sub-committee in May
- “enthusiastically endorsed” by Council of Assembly in June
- received with excitement by Synod of Otago and Southland executive in July
Last week I reduced the pages of written documentation and powerpoint slides to one picture. That’s part of what I’ve been working on recently.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
inspiring individually, really helpful theologically: Built for Change review
Here is a fifth review of Built for Change. This one is by Duncan Macleod. Duncan is Director of the Uniting Learning Network with the Uniting Church in Australia. He is also editor of The Inspiration Room, a website focused on creative work from around globe.
Two things I appreciate about this review. First, the evaluation of the second section, Leading Deeply as offering “a really helpful reflection” on a theology of leadership and innovation, particularly for the mainline denomination in which Duncan serves. Second, my approach in the third section, Leading Inward as being inspired/ing. Duncan reads my highly personalised approach as an invitation – “Rather than comparing myself with my colleagues, I need to grasp the particular contribution God is developing in me in relationship with my peers.” My highly individualised approach becomes “a great way to finish … inspire and inform … without prescribing or limiting.” It felt risky and vulnerable writing the way I did and its a relief to have Duncan’s feedback on how this approach inspires.
Here is the review in full: thanks Duncan.
Steve’s first section, Leading Outward, introduces six images of leadership as found in Paul’s self descriptions in 1 Corinthians 3 and 4: a servant who listens, a resource manager who faces reality, a builder who structures collaborative processes, a fool who jumps out of boxes and plays, and a parent who parents. Steve tells the stories of three innovative projects made possible through collaborative leadership: Glenkirk Cafe in Malvern, Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross, Sydney, and the Illustrated Gospel Project, a worship resource curated by Malcolm Gordon. He goes on to explore Lewin’s force field, experimentation, the change curve, and the importance of tacking.
The second section, Leading Deeply, delves into a theology of leadership, drawing insight from the ministry of Jesus and exploring the healthy tension between Biblical frameworks and contemporary insights into collaborative leadership. This is a really helpful reflection for the Uniting Church, which in many ways has its roots in movements that were highly suspicious of any one person having too much influence. It’s not that long ago that focusing on transformation, leadership and missional challenge were seen by some as the latest heresy. Steve’s contribution to the conversation helps us recognise some of our own biases and come more lightly to a considered theological reflection on leadership and innovation.
The third section, Leading Inward, provides insights into Steve’s own exploration of collaborative leadership and innovation, including lessons learnt and practices honed. This, perhaps, is the section that inspired me the most. Steve has run a series of C words in this section: call, colour, connection, community. Working in a very similar role to Steve, I resonated with his reflections on the importance of call. “What is in your hand? What among your gifts, talents and experience is of value to the organisations to which you contribute?” Having just gone through my annual vitality of ministry review this week, it’s a pertinent question. Rather than comparing myself with my colleagues, I need to grasp the particular contribution God is developing in me in relationship with my peers. I gathered inspiration for practical daily and weekly disciplines as I read through the way Steve manages to achieve what he does.
Steve finishes with a chapter on reflective leadership, focusing on four tools: journaling, the leading of meetings, breath prayer and the art of asking the question, “What could I do differently”. That last question is a great way to finish, helping us as readers to recognise Steve’s pattern of work and life as his particular journey of learning, which can inspire and inform our own without prescribing or limiting.
“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.
Monday, August 22, 2016
makes good sense: the mother-in-law reviews Built for Change
During the past month I had more time than usual for reading and I found Steve Taylor’s new book very interesting. “Built for Change” is, as it says, “a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership.” The words “Collaboration in leadership” grabbed me because I don’t see “collaborating” as something Christians always find easy to do. It seems easy to be excited by something we believe God is saying to us individually but often much harder to really listen to others and work together.
Quoting from 1 Corinthians, Chapters 3 and 4, Steve describes Paul’s leadership as combining the attributes of servant, gardener, builder, resource manager, fool and parent. I wondered how exercising those attributes could be a key to making collaboration and innovation successful and I was encouraged to read on. Steve describes how he has used Paul’s ministry as a model for building team leadership over the past few years in Australia and now in Otago. What he has to say makes good sense and his book is full of rich and innovative ideas.
“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Built for change: review by John Littleton for South Australian Anglicans
Dear friends, I bring Steve Taylor’s new book to your attention and commend it. I enjoyed the holistic, collaborative and theologically reflective leadership demonstrated in this book. The book is a challenging and rewarding read. Careful reading provides evidence of a reflective practitioner at work. An account of adaptive leadership in practice is combined with a connectional theology of leadership and an analysis of Jesus the innovator as reported in the Gospels. The word innovation takes on a “Christological shape.” Chapter 8 is entitled “Leading myself” and introduces a section on practical and personal leadership strategies. The book shares stories and offers insight into a personal spirituality of change.
Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership explores the six strengths that change requires, and demonstrates that collaborative change is both practical and possible. Steve wrote ‘Built for Change’ around the concluding of his placement as Principal of Uniting College in the Adelaide College of Divinity in 2015 and transitioning into his new role as Principal for Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin, New Zealand.
“Built for Change” is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.
Review 1 here;
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Built for change: review by Peter Overton
This is the book to read, re read, reflect, buy for leadership teams, read, re read, reflect. It’s not a quick fix, it’s adaptive leadership and way more. It’s the story of adaptive leadership in practice and much more. He uses image of Servant/listener, Gardener, Builder, Resource Manager Fool and Parent to unpack Adaptive leadership in I Cor 3 and 4 and applies this to National Church Life Survey. I have already done a Elders/leaders seminar for another Church using the models in this book and it really connected with them, we meet again in Six months to review progress. This by the way was in preparation for a new placement coming in 2017 to the Church so in my words they can be built for Change. Congratulations Steve Taylor.
Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership explores the 6 strengths that change requires, and demonstrates that collaborative change is both practical and possible. Steve wrote ‘Built for Change’ around the concluding of his placement at Uniting College and transitioning into his new role as Principal for Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin, New Zealand. The book shares stories, provides theological reflection on Jesus the innovator and offers insight into a personal spirituality of change.
Built for change is now available in Australia and New Zealand. NZ orders via this page. Australia orders to mediacom dot Org dot Au.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Innovation as a body practice nourished by the Prodigal Son
I spoke this morning at Central Presbytery, providing a keynote session on the topic of innovation as a body practice. It was a chance to continue to develop my thinking around being a church body built for change. With the final edits on my Built for Change book complete, each time I speak at the moment is a chance to try and take what is 53,000 written words and shape it into a spoken presentation. It is also a chance to explore the place of innovation and ministry within the Presbyterian Church, in particular their essential documents.
Before I talked, there was a short time of worship, followed by a Biblical reflection on the Prodigal Son. I was not aware of it in preparing and it was fascinating to stand to speak on my chosen topic, with that Scripture fresh in all our minds. The result was that there were two moments in my talk when what was said in the prior Biblical reflection became incredibly helpful.
First, in defining body practice. I had prepared to rift off John Swinton and Harriett Mowat (Practical Theology and Qualitative Research), and their insights on the shape of practical theology. But in reflecting on the Prodigal Son, the Bible study leader pointed to how the Prodigal Son, is given a ring, a robe and sandals. These, it was suggested, were physical symbols that would have helped the Prodigal Son understand their new identity. The statement was made:
“God’s gifts that help us see ourselves differently.”
It became an illuminating and helpful phrase. Body practices – confession, hospitality, discernment, listening to the stranger – begin with God, they are gifts. Body practices are about us; about how the church is the body of Christ. Body practices are things we do, and in that doing, we see ourselves differently. Thus they allow a theology on the road, a call to practice our way into God’s future and in doing so, expect to ourselves be changed.
Secondly, in reflecting on the Prodigal Son, the difference between shame and blessing was discussed. The Prodigal Son feels shame and as such, is likely to behave in certain ways. In contrast, as the Prodigal Son feels blessed, they are invited to behave differently.
This became a very helpful frame by which to consider how the church responds to change. What does a place of shame look like? Oh, we tried that before. Oh, I remember you from the past. Oh that wouldn’t work. What does a place of blessing look like? Welcome. Take a risk. Experience grace.
It was a rich experience to be able to work with innovation in the light of the Prodigal Son. It provided a fresh lens and opened up a rich set of conversations around people and processes in change.
Monday, April 04, 2016
Knox online mission teaching
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership went online today. The topic focus was Mission and the church. Video conferencing was used to connect interns together and for two hours, Scripture was read, in conversation with readings from Newbigin and the context in which the intern is ministering.
First, traditional education tends to offer theory, which is then applied, often in an assignment. The Mission and the church class has a major assignment which involves working with a group from the local church over a number of weeks in exploring what God is up to in the local neighbourhood. The use of video conferencing was a way to try and place the local context more front and centre, in a different way than in a classroom. Essentially we have halved the face to face contact time and replaced it with in-context tutorials.
Second, some recent educational research has argued that the closer a student is to their context, the more likely they are to begin to experience change, as they seek to integrate content with their current lived experience. In other words, the face to face class removes a student from their context, while e-learning allows them to stay in context, increasing their range of connections they make.
Third, the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership internship offers three block course intensives a year. Providing online engagement in between intensives increases interaction between lecturers and interns. It also provides another way to strengthen relationships between interns. (“Is that what your office looks like” was one comment heard today).
Fourth, technology is an increasing part of life today, so it is good for interns (and lecturers) to be invited to learn and grow, to experience forming and being formed through digital means.
Fifth, online technology offers some avenues for Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership to be more engaged in training nationally, including connecting with those in rural areas. If we can do this with interns, could we down the track also do it with lay folk and ministers in context? So this type of experiment allows us to learn and grow, testing our capacity, exploring ways to enhance access to ministry and mission training.
Today had some hitches. As was to be expected. But the conversation I was part of was one of the most honest and sustained exploration of ministry and call that I have experienced in quite some years. To read Scripture, to pray and be prayed through digital technologies, was a rich experience.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Paul: the apostolic team builder
This is certainly consistent with how Paul leads. He is a team builder. Of the 13 letters that claim Pauline authorship in the New Testament, more than half (seven in total) are team efforts. Paul and Sosthenes write 1 Corinthians. Paul and Timothy write 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, while Paul, Silas and Timothy write 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The six letters written by Paul are Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus.
The book of 1 Corinthians is rich in alliances and networks, in which “All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings” (16:20). The letter is co-authored (1:1) and is the result of a report from Chloe’s household (1:11). Paul has baptised Crispus, Gaius (1:14) and the household of Stephanas (1:15). Paul exercises ministry alongside Apollos (3:5), Barnabas (9:6), Timothy (16:10) and Apollos and the brothers (16:12). Paul’s understanding of servant in chapters 3 and 4 is in the plural. The church is a body, with different gifts (12:4). Paul greets the household of Stephanas (16:15) and shares greetings from the churches in Asia, Aquila and Priscilla and their house church (16:19). He is grateful that his ministry has been “resourced managed” by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (“they supplied what was lacking” 16:17). This represents ten individuals, three house churches and three other groupings of churches. This is a connected leader enmeshed in alliances and networks.
(An excerpt from upcoming Built for change: innovation and collaboration in leadership).
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Built for change chapter headings
The last few days have been flat out writing (This was the view from our upper deck yesterday evening). By Saturday I had a complete full draft of around 50,000 words, which allowed me to move into editing mode. As of a few minutes ago (big thanks to an eagle-eyed partner), the first four chapters of Built for Change (provisional title) are now with the publisher. I had hoped to do more, but Christmas deadlines and holidays take precedence. However, I’m very pleased with progress. It is a significantly better book than it was 6 weeks ago and now includes a theology of innovation – weaving Scripture, tradition and contemporary knowledge – that I think is genuinely new, emerging from reflection on lived experience, in particular seven stories of social entrepreneurship/not-for-profit innovation.
Here is a one paragraph summary – This book offers a practical theology of innovation. It emerges not from a place of theory but from a context of reality, a situation often considered resistant to change. Stories of change are told, including programmes for reconciliation, young adult formation, digital learning, creating a rural community cafe, urban community garden and a creative resource. In the telling is inspiration. Collaborative change is possible.
And here are the current chapter headings.
Built for change: a practical theology of innovation
Chapter 1 – Outro: Final chords
Part I – Leading outward
Chapter 2 – Built for change
Chapter 3 – Collaborative change
Chapter 4 – Learning in change
Bridge – Leading Deeply
Chapter 5 – Jesus the innovator
Chapter 6 – Traditions of innovation
Chapter 7 – A connectional theology of innovation
Part II – Leading inward
Chapter 8 – Leading myself
Chapter 9 – Limited leading
Chapter 10 – Leading reflectively
Chapter 11 – Intro: First chords
Friday, December 18, 2015
last trip of the working year
I took this photo at Paekakariki on Wednesday, to mark my last trip for the year, as I flew to Wellington for a day on Tuesday, then drove to Palmerston North on Wednesday. It is just over 9 weeks since I began as Principal at Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and the trip this week enabled me to complete two important tasks.
First, connecting with intern churches. KCML trains using an internship model and the trip to Palmerston North meant that I have managed to connect with the six ministers and local church in which the incoming (class of 2016) interns will be placed. That has involved a local visit and three road trips – to Christchurch, Palmerston North, Rotorua and Tauranga. It has been such a good exercise to sit with local leaders and explore what it means for them to work with an intern and sense their passion and commitment to form leaders for the future church.
Second, connecting with Presbyteries. The trip this week means that I have managed some form of connection with each of the seven Presbyteries that make up the PCANZ. Working from the bottom up
- a welcome to the Southern Presbytery as I briefly introduced myself at Inspiring Mission, Dunedin;
- a welcome, introduction and Q and A with Alpine Presbytery in Christchurch;
- a lunch gathering with available ministers from Central Presbytery in Palmerston North, in which I shared some of what God might be calling us to in this next season as KCML;
- a visit to Te Aka Puaho, to share in worship and a cup of tea;
- a visit to two local churches in Kaimai Presbytery (with an invitation to speak in 2016);
- a meeting with key leaders from Northern Presbytery;
- engagement with folk from the Pacific Island Synod as part of the block course in Auckland;
Each connection has been different. This is as it should be, because each Presbytery is different and has different patterns of working and being. For me, these visits are only the beginning. A key part of the future of KCML will be forming training partnerships – each different – with each of these Presbyteries in the years ahead. But they represent, in the space of nine weeks, a good start in terms of being out and about around the country, connecting and beginning the conversations that will takes us forward in partnership.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
time to flourish: a theology of time management
The day lies open before me. It is gift, waiting to unwrapped.
How to fill it?
Appointments – these include the requests from outside to meet, greet, complain, engage. Each of these reach out to fill my day. When I think of appointments, I also include my to do list. As it lies open before me, it is also making appointments, marking my diary not with “Meeting” but with “Complete marking schedule.”
Crisis – something unexpected might happen. I recall days that have been consumed by funding crisis or relationship breakdown. The adrenaline surges and the crisis engulfs.
Routine – the comfort of habit. I settle today in what I did yesterday. Yet if I am honest, what I did yesterday was what I did last week, last month, last month, last decade. There is security in this, the rhythm of routine. But do I want my gravestone to be titled “lived by habit.”
Flourish – Psalm 1, the lectionary reading for today, suggests another approach. In verse 3
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Which got me thinking about the shape of flourishing. I suspect what it means for me to flourish might be different from what it means for you to flourish. My role, my skills, my context, invite a particular set of fruit.
The Psalm mentions not only fruit, but leaves. Like fruit, leaves also are particular, shaped by seasons. Again comes the reminder that my season is different than your season. So to flourish, in fruit and foliage, is unique, an individual fingerprint.
This requires some work, some intentionality. What might my fruit be? I began to journal, a rough draft. A flourishing Principal will
- ensure continuous quality improvement in learning and forming
- be careful, competent, yet creative with resources (buildings, people, systems)
- connect with stakeholders in ways that serve the church of tomorrow
- think (research and write) in ways that take the organisation they serve back to the future
In doing this work, I find that the gift that is my day now has some shape. It might well be expressed in appointments, in responding to crisis, in routine. But my day, my time mangement, is now more that the sum of its parts. To grow fruit takes time. The deliberate application of fertiliser, the careful pruning, the commitment to thin appropriately. And so the gift of today is now shaped – by what it means for me and my organisation to flourish.